Seattle P-I Tosses Only Softballs in Illegal Immigrant Interview

In a September 10 Big Blog entry, Seattle Post-Intelligencer online reporter Monica Guzman filed an interview with an illegal immigrant from Peru.

While it's arguable there's a place for her softball questions about the hopes and dreams that compel illegal immigrants to come to America for opportunity, a balanced interview would call for some harder questions about the laws broken by immigrants who do so.

Unfortunately Guzman didn't offer any such tough questions, although the P-I encourages readers to submit questions for reporters to ask in future interviews here.

Below is an excerpt from the interview. I've removed many of the responses for the sake of brevity. Guzman's questions are in bold and italicized. You can find the full interview with 33-year old immigrant Juan Carlos Savedra here.:

Why are you here? How did you learn about this site?

How long have you been coming here?

Where are you from?

How does your mother feel about having her son here?

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

How is life different here than in Peru?

Which do you like better -- Peru or Seattle?

How has being here changed you?

How different do you think your life is from the people who drive by in fancy cars?

Have you ever felt taken advantage of by an employer or a landlord?

Sometimes, not usually. (...) I never let people take advantage of me. They want to pay me few money and the work is hard, I don't go. But some guys, they're going. Some guys, they're going. they don't know what's going on. They don't think. I like to -- I don't let people treat me like a slave. I'm a person.

Does that happen? Are people treated like slaves?

Yeah. it happens. It happens many times.

Where would you like your son to be in 10 years?

My son, I would like my son not here. I would like my son in my country. But I want to give a good education, like when he finish studying in Peru, come here, go to university and career. No, but my son -- I don't want my son here ...

Behind him, a white truck pulls over on Bell Street and stops. One of the men waiting with Savedra speaks with someone through the passenger side window. The man nods, and the truck drives off. As Savedra answered the next question, the man who spoke with the driver gathered a group next to us at the intersection.


Because the culture here, it's good, but they don't got the value to (unintelligible ...) you know, the respect.

A man taps Savedra on the shoulder and tells him about the job the driver of the truck is offering.

"They're looking for someone to paint around windows," the man told Savedra in Spanish.

"No, no, I'm not a good painter," Savedra responds.

"But you don't have to be a good painter. It's just a little thing."

"How much?" Savedra asks. "Where?"

(Answer unintelligible)

"OK. OK, I'll go, tell him," Savedra said. "Let's go, let's go."

Is he coming back or do you have to go?

"I don't know. I don't know," Savedra said. "Let's go, compadre," he tells another man. How many hours is it?" he asks.

"The whole day," someone answers.

"Let's keep going," he tells me.

OK -- how much do you miss Peru?

All day. All the time. Every moment.

How happy are you here?

Yeah, I'm happy here. I feel good. It's like my second country. I love America 'cause I live here, I work here, I got all things here. The things I couldn't have in my country I have here.

I was going to ask you if you spoke English, but clearly you do.

How is my English?

Pretty good. How did you learn it?


Immigration Seattle Post-Intelligencer Journalistic Issues Monica Guzman